The plate curls refer to an exercise that primarily involves a lot of curling motion as the title suggests.
The motion demanded by the exercises mostly engages the biceps brachii muscle. It is possible to do this with either a barbell or dumbbell and as such, they are more often used.
However, the unique nature of motions demanded to do the plate curls make it a very effective exercise. This is in spite of the fact that it is not a very commonly done exercise
That said, what does it take to do the plate curls exercise? Here’s what to do…
- Grab a heavy weight plate at the sides. Then bring it forward so that you’re holding it in front of your thighs.
- Curl the plate toward your chest.
- Keep curling until your forearms forcefully press up against your biceps.
- Hold the contraction for a second and then lower the weight disc under control until your elbows are close to full extension
- Repeat for 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps.
WHAT MUSCLES DO PLATE CURLS WORK?
For a lot of people, a built bicep brachii is the epitome of elite fitness. Whilst this isn’t exactly the case, it is understandable why this is seen as the case purely based on aesthetic reasons.
That said, the plate curls are just as effective an exercise as any when it comes to building the biceps. The curling action is responsible for engaging the biceps.
In the long run, this leads to bigger biceps but more importantly stronger biceps.
The aforementioned increase in strength comes about when the bicep muscle is isolated and put under constant strain.
The forearm plays a pivotal role in completing plate curl movements. This is because they are responsible for regulating the flexing and gripping actions that are done by the wrist and elbow.
The forearm is therefore engaged anytime the elbow is flexed or the wrist is used to grip anything. A strengthened forearm strengthens your grip which makes it easier to do the plate curl exercise.
Wrists primarily play a stability role while doing the plate curl or any physical activity that engages it as a body part.
In this particular exercise, the wrists provide stability when curling the plate and ensure that the strain is directed to the place as a result of the stability it provides.
This is particularly so when you’re starting your lift and also while dropping the plate
Your arm placement while doing the plate curls naturally brings the triceps into the picture.
By virtue of placing your arm at a 180 degree angle, the triceps help in the regulation of the upward and downward movement of your arms.
It also chimes in when it comes to providing flexibility of the elbow and stability of the arm.
Therefore, as you continue to do the exercise and the triceps gain strength, the more stability and flexibility your arms and elbows gain.
PLATE CURLS BENEFITS
Some of the benefits associated with doing the plate curls include:
The strengthening of areas such as the elbow and wrist ensures that any movement major or minor is done with stability.
This could be extremely important in major tasks such as carrying a heavy load to menial tasks such as drawing a straight line
A strong arm is a pretty convenient trait when you think about it. Not only does it enable you to do difficult tasks easier, it also ensures that you avoid injuries.
This is because your joints and muscles are properly equipped to deal with strain
IMPROVED ARM FLEXIBILITY
Due to the strengthening of areas such as the elbow and wrist, your general range of motion gets better.
This ensures that you’re comfortable in unconventional positions; it also means you avoid injuries from overexerting yourself.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE PLATE CURLS
As mentioned above, bicep sculpting can equally be achieved by using either a barbell, dumbbell or even bodyweight.
Below are some examples of some alternative exercises that use some of these pieces of equipment and bring about results similar to doing the plate curls.
INCLINED DUMBBELL CURL
The inclined dumbbell curl involves the use of a dumbbell as the weight of choice. It also involves the use of an incline bench.
This engages areas similar to the plate curl i.e., triceps and biceps among other areas.
The steps of the exercise require you to:
- Position and incline the bench at roughly 55-65 degrees, pick a manageable dumbbell, and sit upright with your back flat against the pad.
- Ensure that your grip is placed in a manner that ensures your fingers face up and curl both dumbbells towards your shoulders.
- Once the biceps are fully shortened, slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
The hinged curls are a great plate curl alternative working the bicep as well however from a hinged position. This means that it requires curling weights while leaning forward slightly.
The steps, therefore, require you to:
- Pick up weights at about shoulder-width length and hinge yourself
- Curl the weights right up to face level
- Lower the weights
The trick to doing this exercise is bracing your core while doing the exercise and minimising your upper arms momentum
REVERSE BARBELL CURLS
The reverse barbell curls are different due to its emphasis on using the overhand grip.
In the end it does however still end up strengthening the bicep muscles. However, it does this in a manner that’s different to the majority of the other alternatives.
To do this exercise:
- Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and hold two dumbbells at your thighs with an overhand grip.
- Raise your forearms, keeping your upper arms close to your body, so that your palms face forward and the dumbbells are shoulder height.
- Slowly return the dumbbells and repeat.
NEUTRAL GRIP CHIN UP
The neutral grip chin up is a compound that exercises numerous areas from the back to the core and of course the biceps.
It is an extremely effective exercise that can be done in a variety of ways. To do the exercise:
- Hold onto the chin-up bar with your palms facing inwards and spread your hands till they are shoulder-width apart.
- Extend your arms so that you are hanging from the chin-up bar. This is your starting position.
- Bend your elbows and pull your body upwards to bring your chin up and over the chin-up bar.
- Extend your elbows and lower your body to return to the starting position.
MISTAKES TO AVOID
SQUEEZING THE PLATE TOO HARD
Squeezing the plate too hard could lead to an injury as you direct too much strain towards your muscles.
Whilst it is imperative that you exert effort when doing the plate curl, regulation is key.
ARCHING YOUR BACK
When you arch your back, you fail to isolate the biceps which in the end means you’re engaging the wrong muscles.
The plate curls are a delicate exercise that builds the biceps in detail. However, you should exercise great caution when doing the necessary steps.
This is so as to avoid engaging the wrong areas or getting an injury.